The last couple weeks I have been working my way through dozens of Bible and theology questions which people have submitted through that “ask a question” area in the sidebar. If you have been following along, you will note that some questions require a whole post to answer. Others can be answered more succinctly. These shorter answers get put in one post like the following where I try to answer several Bible and theology questions together.
This post deals with Bible and theology questions about attending church, tithing, and…. masturbation.
Feel free to leave your own comments about these questions in the comment section below.
Question on Going to Church
Can a person be a Christian and not go to church ?
Yes! A thousand times yes! People who believe in Jesus for eternal life are the church, whether or not they “attend church.”
It’s an old saying, but it’s true: Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going into a garage makes you a car.
Similarly, a car can be a car whether or not it ever parks in a garage, and a Christian can be a Christian whether or not he or she ever attends church.
Scripture backs this up as well, for there is not one place in the Bible that commands us to attend church. Not even Hebrew 10:25.
Question on Tithing
If it is the priests only God is speaking to through Malachi, then why in 3:6 does the audience seem to change to the “the children of Jacob” and “the whole nation of you” in verse 9 –it seems there is a change here.
I imagine you read this post about tithing and your question is based on what you read there? Maybe you could leave your question in the comment section there so that people could interact with you on it…
I probably should have clarified that Malachi was written primarily to the religious leaders of Israel, but not only to them. As the spiritual leaders, they were the spiritual representatives for Israel, and so naturally, Israel followed their lead. So Malachi 3:6 does mention the sons of Jacob, which may refer to all the people of Israel. Although even then, the statement in Malachi 3:6 is not so much about the actions of the son of Judah, but God’s long-suffering grace upon them. I read this verse as saying that God does not consume the sons of Jacob for the actions of the priests (or of the forefathers – Malachi 3:7). God is patient and long-suffering, and keeps His Word.
As to the statement in Malachi 3:9 about the whole nation, I did reference that in the post. Malachi is saying that the priests are not just robbing from God, but are robbing from the whole nation as well. This is further evidence that Malachi is primarily writing to the priests here, because if he were writing to all the people, it would not make sense to say that all the people were robbing from all the people. It makes more sense to see that the people are tithing, but the priests are stealing the tithe, and as such, they are robbing God and robbing the whole nation.
Question on Masturbation
I’ve been asking to be free/liberated from addiction to porn and masturbation. I have yet to be set free and I don’t want to lose my salvation because of it. Am I forgiven for doing theses things, because deep down I think it’s wrong, but I’m just not sure it’s a sin. I just know I’m a slave to this. Please help.
Honestly, this question probably demands a full post, but I just didn’t want to write a blog post with the word “masturbation” in the title… so let me see if I can answer the question briefly…
First, the Bible really doesn’t say anything one way or the other about masturbation. Sure, some people make some arguments from the Levitical laws, but I’m not going to get into all that. I don’t think they apply.
I personally do not think that masturbation is sinful.
Pornography, however, is definitely wrong, and almost all studies show that pornography and masturbation go hand in hand…. Sorry. Bad pun. Pornography objectifies women, creates unrealistic ideas about sex, and causes immense mental and emotional damage in the minds of men who look at it. Besides all this, there are numerous Scriptures which instruct men to not look at women lustfully (e.g., Matt 5:28).
But the real question is how to deal with the addiction of pornography and masturbation.
The answer to that is the same answer for any sort of addiction, whether it is overeating, drugs, alcohol, gaming, or gambling: Addictions are overcome only by the supernatural power of God.
How do you tap into this supernatural power of God? There is only one way: recognize that no matter what, God loves you and forgives you.
You asked about whether or not you will lose your salvation for looking at porn and masturbating. The answer is no. Why not? Because God loves you and forgives you. Only this knowledge will lead you to the freedom from sin that is yours in Jesus Christ.
As long as we are afraid of not being forgiven by God, that fear keeps us enslaved to sin. It only when we begin to understand the infinite love and grace of God toward us that the power of sin loses its hold in our lives. Fear keeps us in bondage. Fear keeps us trying to depend on our own effort and our own strength to liberate ourselves from our own sin… and it never works. Only when we lose the fear of losing God’s love, and come to see that God loves us and forgives us no matter what, do we get to the place where sin no longer has the draw that it once did.
I know that this seems backwards and upside down from what is taught in most Christian books and Christian pulpits.
I know that what I am saying sounds like people have the freedom to go sin all they want.
But you know what? This is what I read in Scripture. Sin has dire consequences, for sure, but one of those consequences is NOT that God will stop loving you or forgiving you.
I maybe should also share that I speak from experience on this sort of question. I have an incredibly addictive personality. I have been addicted to many things during my life (I am not comfortable saying which things on this blog). Some of the things I was addicted to for twenty years or more. For some it was only five years or so. Some of these addictions have caused great pain for myself and my wife.
I tried everything to conquer and defeat these addictions, from fasting and praying for days on end to accountability groups to self-help books. Nothing ever worked until I came to the realization that God’s love and forgiveness for me was without end. Though I continued to stumble and fall, the recognition that God loved and forgave me led, over time, to a lack of desire for that particular addiction. I cannot say “how” it worked, only that it did.
Robert Kenyon says
Jeremy Myers says
pornography and masturbation go hand in hand. LOL
Thank you for your kind words to the person (I’m not assuming a male) struggling with porn and masturbation. It is hard to struggle and suffer with a destructive behavior and then be condemned by others. Your words were wise.
Jeremy Myers says
Thanks, Randy. I hope they were encouraging. I think many people struggle with various addictions (I know I do), and thankfully, God is patient with us and never stops loving us.
You never cease to amaze me. Simple truth is so beautiful! Trying to grab hold of it daily.
I still think we should still go to the church… or maybe a meeting where all the believer can learn from each other, strengthening each other, pray for each other etc, and of course, to worship God together… It is true that sometime I feel that I do not learn many thing from the sermon, but, many times, I learn by going to the church, knowing that I will not learn something from the preacher, humble myself to still listen to God and worship Him,,,, it is such a blessing to hear others testimony about how God works in their life, it is such an encouragement to see people open up their problem, then, we can pray about them.. and this church…. is the one that I am attending… and it is such as shame, if you cancel the church service like this….. what do you think?
Jeremy Myers says
I do think that followers of should should meet together whenever possible for encouragement and edification. I don’t think it necessarily has to be in a building on Sunday morning where they sing, sit in pews, and listen to a sermon. It can take other forms as well.
Yes, I agree with you.. it should be everyday!!!!! 🙂 but, there is nothing wrong if people still wants to do the fellowship on Sunday morning, sit, and listen to the sermon… and I admit, it is not enough… 🙂
Soli Deo Gloria says
I might suggest to the reader that struggles with pornography to seek out a local Celebrate Recovery group:
They have groups that deal with drugs, alcohol, and pornography, as well as other issues.
Like you, Jeremy, I have an “addictive personality”, and you are correct — being healed of addiction is solely through the power of the Holy Spirit. We are helpless otherwise.
Jeremy Myers says
Thanks. Yes, I forgot about that resource. I know it has helped many.
The M word! The source of much worry for many young men who grew up in conservative churches, where the story of Tamar ans Onan in Gen. 38 was on the top ten list of favorite Bible stories.
My friend grew up in such a church and attended a Christian college. Some preacher along the way had convinced him he had committed the unpardonable sin, the M word, for which he would burn forever in the lake of fire.
My Bible professor, as conservative as they come, was asked about the Tamar and Onan story in class. The room grew still. The professor said that the story has nothing to do with masturbation, but is about Onan’s duty to impregnate Tamar, his brother’s wife. The professor added, that in his opinion, the Bible does not address the issue of masturbation.
Jeremy Myers says
Yes, it is a difficult topic, and I debated addressing it on the blog…
I have heard some use that Tamar and Onan story. I thought about mentioning it, but didn’t. Glad you brought it up.
This is everthing I could want